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Allymohamed’s stellar hockey career comes to a close

Photo+Thom+Kendall%2FUMass+Athletics
Photo Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

Photo Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics

THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS AMHERST

THOM KENDALL FOR UMASS AMHERST

Photo Thom Kendall/UMass Athletics


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By Matt Gingras

What Lauren Allymohamed  did for four years playing field hockey on Garber Field — and many other fields throughout the nation — is nothing short of extraordinary.

The accolades are seemingly endless: four Atlantic 10 All-Conference First Team awards, including three Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year awards, a first for Atlantic 10 players. Twice, Allymohamed has been named to an NFHCA All-American team. After her senior season, she was named an NFHCA Senior Game participant. To top it all off, she was named the Atlantic 10 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in 2013.

Despite the populated trophy shelf, Allymohamed’s rise to the top started off with a lot of adjustments. Born in Seaford, England, Allymohamed needed to adapt not only to the American style of play, but to the American culture.

“It was [hard adjusting to a new country], it took a little time to get used to,” Allymohamed said. “I think that’s the same with anything. I was a little homesick in the beginning, but now I love it and I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

Allymohamed’s mother, Caroline Unsworth, said that she was initially shocked with Lauren’s choice to go to school abroad.

“To be honest, I was probably in denial, initially. Studying in America wasn’t something that any of us had considered until Lauren played in a game where Carla [Tagliente, the UMass field hockey head coach] had been observing an opposition player,” Unsworth said. “From then on, Lauren seemed set that this was what she wanted to do.”

Carla Tagliente noticed Allymohamed’s struggles during her freshman year. “With Lauren, it was almost immediate,” said Tagliente. “I didn’t know if this was going to be a match for her. Not in terms of UMass being a match, but I didn’t know if she’d stick in it for the long haul, if she would just do a semester or a year.

“But that’s what’s impressed me about her,” Tagliente continued. “Initially it wasn’t easy. I think she could answer that better than me, but she was pretty homesick pretty quick.”

The senior is nearing the end of her standout career with the Minutewomen. She’s played and started in every game as the team’s center back, one of the most difficult positions to master in field hockey. To be successful, the center back has to manage the field from behind, almost as the coach on the field.

“She’s evolved more to kind of a vocal leader,” said Tagliente. “She’s very calm and very poised, very positive, and she just tries to add something that she thinks we need at the time, in terms of her communication style.”

Tagliente recruited Allymohamed when the coach was an assistant at Northwestern. When UMass offered Tagliente the head coaching gig, Allymohamed followed.

“I had kind of tracked her for a bit of time,” said Tagliente. “When I came over, I talked to her about coming here, and she made that decision.”

It was the familiarity between them that helped push Allymohamed toward the Minutewomen.“UMass seemed like a better fit for me than Northwestern would have been,” said Allymohamed.

“She looked after me when I was homesick my freshman year. She’s kind of like the support figure away from home,” Allymohamed said about coach Tagliente. “If I ever need anything, I know I can rely on her in more ways than just field hockey. The non-field hockey related things — she’s just dependable.”

The two have great respect for one another, and that respect has played a big part in the success of the UMass field hockey team over the past three seasons. Tagliente has won two Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year awards and has coached the Minutewomen to two NCAA Tournament appearances, including reaching the Elite Eight in 2013.

It’s not only the coaching staff who recognizes the hard work and leadership that Allymohamed puts forward. Co-captain and goalkeeper Sam Carlino, does as well.

“Without her being there, it would definitely be a different game for us. She always steps up and is in the right spot for us,” Carlino said. Carlino has received All-Atlantic 10 first team honors for her work in the goal.

“Without her being there, her helping me organize the defense, I don’t think I would have such a good save percentage and goals against average that I do. Between her, me and the other defenders, collectively, is what comes out of that.”

The past two seasons, Allymohamed has been not only a defensive threat, but an offensive one as well. Her junior campaign saw her notch a career-high eight goals, and her senior season she put away four shots. She has had four game-winning goals in her career. The first was in the Atlantic 10 semifinal game against Virginia Commonwealth University in 2013 and stood out to her among the others.

“We went into double-overtime in the semi finals, and I scored the game-winning goal,” Allymohamed said. “I don’t get really excited when I score, but I was really excited when I scored that goal.”

Allymohamed’s intensity on the field is something that Tagliente admires about the now-former Minutewoman. “She’s gone from a kind of leader by example. Just her grit on the field, she’s kind of a hard nosed player,” Tagliente said. “You always see her getting hit in the head, getting hit in the knuckles, getting hit in the knee, running into somebody. She’s always putting her body on the line to make a play or always making a tackle here and there.”

That grit, determination, and hard-nosed attitude were on full display during Allymohamed’s Senior Day. After walking out to midfield before the game with her parents, Allymohamed was struck in the face early in the first half. She had to be taken to University Health Services for stitches.

“It wasn’t the last game I expected to have on Garber Field,” Allymohamed said. “But I mean, on the plus side, my parents were there, so they came with me to get my stitches put in. At the time, I didn’t really think about the fact that it was my Senior Day because I was too worried about my eye.

“Coming back afterward and hearing all the girls talk about the game, I did miss it. It was awful,”she said.

Having exhausted her four years of NCAA eligibility, Allymohamed is no longer practicing with the team. Still, her work ethic is something that is going to be remembered by the people she played for — Tagliente especially.

“She is a special person, I feel really lucky that she did come to UMass and had four years with her,” said Tagliente. “When you have players that come and have special qualities that put themselves on the line, give 100 percent, you just want the best for them. I’m happy that she’s come away with a lot of success and a lot of accolades.”

Matt Gingras can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RealMattGingras 

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Allymohamed’s stellar hockey career comes to a close